Arby’s: A Case Of Crisis Management and Potential Opportunity

Sometimes a public relations crisis can also be an opportunity if managed correctly. The fast food chain, Arby’s has been presented with such a situation. But so far, Arby’s has failed to turn a public relations crisis into a gain.

Arby’s has been under attack ever since the story of how one of their employees at a Pembroke Pines, Florida location refused to serve a police officer, because the officer was just that a police officer. Compounding to the crisis, was the Arby’s manager seemed to think the entire episode was funny. The Pembroke Pines Police Department and social media didn’t think the story was funny (don’t forget this comes at a time that law enforcement officers are being gunned down execution style). As soon as the story was reported and hit social media, Arby’s CEO called the Pembroke Pines Police Department to apologize. The company also issued a statement stating that they support local police departments. The company also fired the restaurant manager and suspended the employee indefinitely. Beyond that they did nothing.

Yet Arby’s competitors moved to take advantage of the situation. McDonald’s partnered with a local radio station to deliver bags of pancakes and Egg McMuffins to the department Thursday morning. A Whole Foods store in Pembroke Pines put out a spread of its own, while residents supplied donuts and coffee from a local Dunkin’ Donuts. Yet Arby’s has remained silent.

So what could Arby’s do?

  1. Contact the officer who was denied service and give her a free year’s worth of Arby’s or even a lifetime supply.
  2. Provide Arby’s for everyone at the Pembroke Pines police department.
  3. Team up with law enforcement charities.
  4. Have a national law officer appreciation day at all Arby’s locations nationwide.
  5. Donate to funds set up for family members of fallen law enforcement officers.

Arby’s handled its apology perfectly. Firing the manager and suspending the employee indefinitely (it is hard to see him ever returning) was the proper course. Now to change the narrative and garner some positive public relations it needs to do more. If not, as we have seen Arby’s competitors will continue to capitalize on this incident and the public will be left wondering where does Arby’s really stand in regards to law enforcement.

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